New Church of England guidance has reaffirmed its traditional stance on marriage, and says it will not allow clergy to enter a same-sex marriage when it becomes legally possible next month.
The statement – from the House of Bishops – confirmed that gay wedding ceremonies cannot be performed in Church of England churches under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
The Bishops are currently in discussions about the controversial Pilling Report which recommended marking gay relationships in special church services.
The Bishops’ guidance says that liturgy and practice has currently not changed and blessings for gay marriages shouldn’t take place.
But they are committed to a “process of facilitated conversations” about the report, which came under fire from evangelicals who said it had “serious flaws”.
Under Church of England rules, those in a civil partnership can become priests and Bishops if they remain celibate.
The guidance said the Bishops are not willing for someone in a same-sex marriage to be ordained, and would consider it inappropriate for current clergy to enter into a same-sex marriage.
The statement said that getting married to someone of the same sex would “clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England” and that clergy need to “model the Church’s teaching in their lives”.
The House of Bishops’ statement of Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage came as an appendix to a letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York written to the clergy and the people of the Church of England.
The letter said, “we are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged”.
But it added that discussions on the Pilling Report will “include profound reflection on the meaning, interpretation and application of scripture” and will involve “particular attention to the lived experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people”.